There are numerous articles discussing the benefits of early childhood education. Math and Science education has been getting more and more priority at the expense of Music, Arts and Crafts, and Reading. Look at the national childcare chains or the Montessori schools that focus on kindergarten readiness and almost prematurely force in hard subject material. This paradigm shift over the last 15 years has caused parents to feel unnecessary pressure to find preschool programs which are more focused on curriculum and less concerned about child development. In “Crisis in Kindergarten”, the astounding fact that the push for more academics comes from the government and is not based on supporting research, is not only concerning, but potentially creating an entire generation of individuals that lack in critical thinking and executive processing abilities. While some children will succeed regardless of their early education, expecting a 5 or 6 year old to read is not developmentally appropriate. This expectation has forced parents and early educators to spend more time focused on academics and less time on the arts. Creative Minds, along with the Waldorf schools understand that children learn when they are ready. Forcing a child to read at a young age will inhibit the brain from developing in areas that MUST be stimulated early in development.
As an adult, do you have memories of your preschool years? When asked this question, most remember playing with other children, whether in a formal school setting or at home. Adults remember music, arts and crafts, story time, and outdoor play. Academic memories begin, in most cases, in 1st grade. Additionally, as we continue to think about the dynamics of an elementary classroom, there were only rare instances where children were inattentive and misbehaving. At Creative Minds, we get back to the development of a young child’s brain. The preschool years is the most critical time to foster and develop the inner creativity of a child and not allow them to become a recording machine and memorize so called “facts”. Dr. Robert Melillo, author of “Disconnected Kids” explains that from 0 to 3 years of age, the right hemisphere of the brain is developing and a fast rate. The right side of the brain is responsible for creativity, imagination, social skills, emotional control, and attention. He goes on to explain that if the right hemisphere is underactive and the left side overactive during this time period, a child will likely experience a disconnect between the communication and integration of the two sides Once children are age 4, and their right hemisphere skills have developed, then the left side skills will become more prominent and easier to learn and retain. When we allow the brain to develop in the appropriate sequence, a child will be less likely to struggle in school aged programs.
Art, music, and large muscle physical play are natural ways to get children ready for learning. Using those experiences, they are able to better connect to the concepts of the real world.
Many national childcare chains have computer programs to occupy and “teach” the children. Gary Chapman, author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World, explains the importance of limited screen time for young children. In fact, he states that children 2 and younger should not be permitted to have any screen time, including television. Children 3 and older should have a maximum time of 1 hour including all types of electronics. Companies making products for young children that claim to teach them to read spend outrageous amounts of money targeting parents who want to give their child an advantage. However, the reality is that these programs are not supported by research and are not likely helping the child achieve more success. When a young child is watching tv or playing on an ipad, three things occur. First, if they are watching, they are not moving, developing large muscle groups, or socializing with others. Secondly, the left hemisphere of the brain gets overstimulated, which can lead to behavior and attention issues. Finally, young children become hyper focused on the game and it becomes “addictive.” Parents lose critical moments of teaching because the game is keeping the child entertained. How many of you remember long car trips with your family? Children were forced to get along and parents had to parent! It may not be a fond memory, but it certainly was a learning experience. How many children do you see at the grocery store sitting in the cart with an electronic device? Parents now can enjoy trips to the grocery store because their children are not running around, begging for candy, and knocking things over. However, the grocery store experience is a breeding ground for life’s biggest lessons. Don’t run indoors, you don’t always get what you want, and there are consequences if you break things that don’t belong to you. Technology is taking away from the beautiful opportunities parents have to parent their children. We know that the Creative Mind’s children will have access to electronics at home, and that is exactly the reason you won’t find computers in our school for student use. Years ago children came to school to learn how to use computers, but now they learn at a very young age, making it unnecessary to have in early childhood.
Although, most parents are aware that Art and Music are important in a child’s life, with the increased use of technology with young children including infants, their exposure to arts and music has lessoned exponentially. Brain Development Experts have always confirmed the importance of hands on experiences and musical exposure as a key factor in developing a young child’s brain in preparation for what is needed to excel in academics, socialization, and well-balanced emotional development. Music stimulates a child’s brain, body and emotions simultaneously and is said to hold many nutrients needed for a developing brain. Art allows for children to make connections with the outside world. Art improves cognitive, social and motor abilities.